Tragic stories behind gravestones stolen from Thornton churchyard (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Inscriptions on memorials taken from the Bronte Bell Chapel graveyard, opposite St James' Church on Thornton Road tell touching tales of personal grief
The human story behind ancient gravestones robbed from a historic cemetery with Bronte links has been uncovered.
The Telegraph & Argus revealed yesterday that three gravestones were taken from the Old Bell Chapel, also known as the Bronte Bell Chapel, opposite St James Church on Thornton Road, Thornton, on Friday night through to Saturday morning.
One stone belonged to a family of five children and their parents who all tragically died in the 19th century. One of the children was just a year old. The other stone belonged to a mother and father and their daughter.
Police patrolled the graveyard on Saturday night to stop any more stones being taken. It is thought they were taken for the Yorkshire Stone.
Steven Stanworth, the church warden who discovered the thefts, has found out who two of the stones belong to, but there was no inscription on the third.
“The first one belonged to a Mary Ann Dobson, who died in 1853, and whose parents, Hannah Abbott and James Abbott, died in 1857 and 1875 respectively,” he said.
“The second one belonged to John and Mary Pickles and their five children, who all died in the 1800s.
“We only have these records because a chap called Frank Smith archived them all in the 70s before all the inscriptions were covered and became overgrown with weeds. Some of these stones date back to the 1600s. I am just still lost for words about it all.
“This year we had celebrated 400 years of the Bell Chapel and it was really good and we had a world class painter in to paint our anniversary plaques. Then this happens and the negative is trying to overrun the positive.”
The graveyard closed in the year 2000 and the most recent grave dates back to 1965.
Police inquiries into the thefts are still believed to be ongoing and anyone with information can call the non emergency number 101.